John Travolta to play O.J. Simpson lawyer in first starring TV gig since Welcome Back, Kotter

Cast member John Travolta waves upon arrival for the The Forger gala at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sept 12, 2014. He will return to television in a starring role for the first time since 1970s comedy Welcome Back, Kotter. -- PHOTO: RE
Cast member John Travolta waves upon arrival for the The Forger gala at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sept 12, 2014. He will return to television in a starring role for the first time since 1970s comedy Welcome Back, Kotter. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

LOS ANGELES (REUTERS) - John Travolta will be returning to television in a starring role for the first time since 1970s comedy Welcome Back, Kotter in a miniseries about the murder trial of football star O.J. Simpson, US cable network FX said on Wednesday.

Travolta, 60, will play Simpson's defence attorney, Mr Robert Shapiro, in American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson, which will tell the story of the celebrated 1994-95 trial from the lawyers' perspective.

Welcome Back, Kotter, in which Travolta played the cocky high school student Vinnie Barbarino, helped launch his film career with 1970s classics Saturday Night Fever and Grease.

Simpson's televised trial and acquittal on charges of murdering his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman, in Los Angeles gripped Americans with its mixture of celebrity and race relations.

Oscar-winner Cuba Gooding Jr will play Simpson, while David Schwimmer will portray his attorney and friend, Mr Robert Kardashian, the late father of the reality TV stars.

American Horror Story actress Sarah Paulson will play prosecutor Marcia Clark.

The 10-episode miniseries is based on the Jeffrey Toobin's book The Run Of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson.

It is the first series under FX's American Crime Story banner that will anthologise true crime stories.

FX, a unit of Twenty-First Century Fox, has not announced when the series will premiere.